Welcome to my Benko Gambit (ECO A57) Declined game with Rodrigo Silveira!

On this page I have posted one my chess games in which I played the Black side of the  Benko Gambit.

The game includes analysis and diagrams. My opponent had a USCF OTB rating of 1500 at the time we started this game.

Correspondence Game
Dates Played:
10/28/96 to 3/31/98
White: Rodrigo Silveira
(1923) Black: Mike Serovey (1885)

1. d4 c5 2. d5 Nf6 3. Nf3 d6 4. c4 b5

Benko Gambit after 4... b5

Benko Gambit after 4… b5

And thus we have reached the Benko Gambit by transposition. I’ve done rather well with this opening so far, even though GM Larry Christiansen once told me that the opening was refuted. In the Benko, like most gambits, Black sacrifices a pawn or two for a lead in development. Most gambits are tactical, the sacrifice is made for an attack. In the Benko, the sacrifice is made for a positional advantage and is thus considered to be more sound than a tactical advantage.

5. cxb5 a6 6. e3

Benko Gambit after 6.e3

Benko Gambit after 6.e3

Here White declines the gambit Pawn, but later accepts it and transposes into a gambit accepted type position, only down a few tempos.

g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. a4 O-O 9. Ra3 Nbd7 10. Be2 axb5 11. Bxb5 Ba6

Benko Gambit after 11... Ba6

Benko Gambit after 11… Ba6

Here Black is down a Pawn but has a lead in development. Now, Black wants to trade light-squared bishops and finish bringing the minor pieces and rooks over to the Queenside to start an attack there.

12. Qb3 Qb6 13. O-O Rfb8 14. e4

Benko Gambit after 14. e4

Benko Gambit after 14. e4

White has already moved this Pawn once and now wastes a tempo by moving it here. Black still has a positional advantage and opens up the dark-squared Bishop with his next move. That long diagonal is often a killer in these kind of positions!

Ne8! 15. Qc4 Ne5 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. Bxa6 Qxa6 18. Nb5 Qa5 19. Qc2 Rb7 20. Bd2 Qa6 21. f4

Benko Gambit after 21. f4

Benko Gambit after 21. f4

So far, White has avoided trading the Queens. Now Black forces a few exchanges to get what should be a better endgame.

Bxb2 22. Qxb2 Rxb5 23. axb5 Qxa3 24. Qxa3 Rxa3

Benko Gambit after 24... Rxa3

Benko Gambit after 24… Rxa3

Now Black has the Queens and most of the pieces off the board. White has a passed b Pawn and Black has a passed c Pawn. White looks a little better here, especially if he can hold on to that b Pawn.

25. Rb1 Nc7 26. b6 Na6 27. b7 Nb8

Benko Gambit after 27... Nb8

Benko Gambit after 27… Nb8

Black has blockaded the passed b Pawn and White’s dark-squared Bishop cannot support it just yet. Black needs to get his King over to that Pawn to win it. After that, pushing the passed c Pawn makes sense.

28. Rb6 Ra7 29. e5 Kf8 30. e6?

Benko Gambit after 30. e6?

Benko Gambit after 30. e6?

By allowing me to capture on e6 White has given me connected passed pawns in the Center. Still, Black has a struggle here.

fxe6! 31. dxe6 Ke8 32. Rb5 Kd8 33. Ba5+

Benko Gambit after 33. Ba5+

Benko Gambit after 33. Ba5+

Here White tries to win the Knight on b8. If 33… Ke8 then 34. Bc7 and Black can’t save that Knight or stop the Pawn from queening. So, I had to sacrifice the Rook for the Bishop.

Rxa5 34. Rxa5 Kc7 35. Rb5 Kc6 36. Rb1 Kd5

Benko Gambit after 36... Kd5

Benko Gambit after 36… Kd5

Black can’t win that b Pawn just yet, so I decided to clean up the Center pawns instead. Once I start to move those connected passed pawns in the Center, White has to deal with them and maybe give back some of the extra material.

37. Kf2 Kxe6 38. g4 Kd7 39. f5 gxf5 40. gxf5

Benko Gambit after 40. gxf5

Benko Gambit after 40. gxf5

White now has 3 Pawn islands. All 3 pawns are isolated! I have 2 Pawn islands and one has connected passed pawns.

Kc7 41. Ke3 Nc6 42. Rb5 Kb8 43. Ke4 Nb4

Benko Gambit after 43... Nb4

Benko Gambit after 43… Nb4

I needed to keep the White king away form my Pawn on e7. Now, if 44. Rxb4 then cxb4 45. Ke5 Kxb7 46. Ke6 b3 and Black queens the b Pawn. For example 47. Kxe7 b2 48. f6 b1=Q 49. f7 Qf5 50. f8=Q Qxf8+ 51. Kxf8 d5 and White can’t catch the d Pawn before it queens.

44. h4 h6 45. Rb6 d5+! 46. Ke3 d4+ 47. Kd2 Nd5 48. Rxh6 Kxb7

Benko Gambit after 48... Kxb7

Benko Gambit after 48… Kxb7

Now I’m finally rid of the pesky b Pawn. White has the passed h Pawn, but I still have my connected passed Center pawns. With the King and Knight behind those pawns, Black should be better.

49. Re6 c4 50. Re5 c3+ 51. Kd1 Kc6 52. h5 Nb4 53. h6?? c2+! 0-1

Benko Gambit after 53... c2+! (Final position)

Benko Gambit after 53… c2+! (Final position)

The final position. Black’s pawns are faster. If 54. Kc1 then Nd3+ 55. Kxc2 Nxe5 winning the Rook. If 56. h7 then Nf7 stops both pawns. After that Black maneuvers the King and Knight for the opposition and eventually queens the d Pawn.

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